Saturday, October 08, 2011

Mileage Run

I know I'm not the only one who considers a mileage run to keep ADDVantage status on American Airlines. Being in Dallas, and flying places that don't "touch" Texas (meaning, flying Southwest means changing planes), status is a good thing. So, I stay on the lookout for cheap fares -- with Tony doing a job in San Antonio, I've been looking there, but roundtrips look close to $400. Too much.

I'm borderline keeping my Gold status for the year (miss having Platinum, but what can I do?) so with Tony out of town and a cheap $110 airfare available to LAX, I jumped on flying in this morning, hanging out at the Admirals Club, and flying back. I know, I could leave the airport, but this is pretty easy.

So, woke up early, headed to the airport. Parked with Freedom Park (if you don't know about this, you should), spent 30 minutes in the Admirals Club in the D terminal. Didn't get upgraded (but have for the return flight). Board -- no one is in the middle seat next to me. Yeah! Uneventful flight, except  for the leaky pen that I got all over my face.

Headed to the Admirals Club at LAX. It's a pretty big place with good views. But, I like the set up of the ones in DFW better -- they have more coffee bars and refreshment areas. You have to wander around to find it here. It is better than the Admirals Club in Chicago -- which isn't bad, it's just always jam packed with people, making it hard to find a place to sit everytime I go.

First order of business: finishing up the Michigan golf trip blog. Completed! Feel like such a slacker for it taking so long. Note to self: do LIVE, not months after a trip. No fun. No energy.

Second order of business: Bloody Mary (thanks, Laurie, for keeping me out too late on Friday night!). Watch Texas OU game (non event -- it's 48 to 10 in favor of OU-- ouch!). BTW, Mr. Bartender: I agreed to spicy, and like horseradish -- but.... the huge scoop of it was a bit overwhelming.

Third order of business: Think I'm going to LEAVE the Admirals Club and grab lunch.  As OK as the food is at the Admirals Club, figure there may be something more interesting in the terminal (maybe).

So, I could be playing golf instead of doing this mileage run. But I feel I accomplished things today. Maybe I'll buy a shot glass in memory of the trip.

OK, I'm off to find some lunch at LAX. Mileage run half way done.

Day 9: Tullymore and heading home

It's a sad day the last day of the trip, but also a happy day. After this much golf, it's time to head home. Not that we're looking forward to heading back to Dallas and 100+ weather. Tullymore was designed by the same architect who did True North, so we know we'll be happy playing there. It does not disappoint. Cool back to back par threes on the front. Don't have those very often. But, the par 3s are pretty stout yardage wise.

St Ives Inn is no Boyne, but I obviously didn’t mind the bed since I missed the thunderstorms that supposedly blew through Wednesday night after we turned in. Did find out that all of us watched Feherty when we turned in (so, yes, there is no such thing as too much golf). Grab coffee, check out, and off to Tullymore.
Tullymore is another one of the top 100 courses and designed by Eng (same guy who did True North). This is the second of the two courses I hadn’t played on this trip so I’m looking forward to it. Can’t say that we were all bouncing up and down after this many rounds of golf. The entrance and landscaping heading to Tullymore is beautiful. Keep saying it over and over how I wish my yard and garden could look like this in Dallas -- no way in the world that could happen with our Texas heat. Don’t even want to think about what the yard looks like. I’m sure that the tomatoes are no more. Peppers may have a chance. Impatiens, definitely not.

Tullymore lived up to its reputation and was a great track. Could play it regularly, and from different tee boxes (played from the Gold -- this trip is taxing enough, why make it even longer, especially on the last course of the trip). Tullymore isn’t as challenging as True North, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (especially on the last day). Back to back par 3s was interesting (not too many courses have -- one of them is Cypress Point, in case you’re curious). We’re finally seeing more critters -- Momma and her babies. Geese (but not as many as at St. Ives).

Round over and Mark jumps in his car to head back to Chicago. He figures if he gets there earlier, he could wrap up his meetings and head back to Dallas tonight (or earlier tomorrow). We grab lunch at the clubhouse since we have time. Excellent food (Tom had a chicken parmagian (sp) sandwich and Bob and I had a steak baguette with horseradish and mushrooms and provolone). Jump in the T&C and off to the airport we go (Bob pretty much falls asleep pretty quickly).

Sitting here at the airport in Grand Rapids (GRR), Netbook plugged in. Coffee in hand. Tom’s photos are uploaded onto my computer, as are mine. Might have tried to upload too many photos to Snapfish before the flight, but it’s delayed. Maybe it’ll be a good sign and I’ll have to cancel my upload midway (doubt it). Tom’s over to my right. Bob, don’t know where he is. This is the last leg of the trip, and we don’t typically spend a lot of time talking. We’re pretty beat by now. Figure sleeping may be on the agenda on our flight.

How’d we net out? Can’t remember if I’ve told you, but there is a spreadsheet involved and all I had to do was drop in the last couple of rounds and then it’s all figured out (yes, there are a number of documents on this trip -- spreadsheet with handicaps on different tee boxes on all of the courses we play; itinerary formatted from Tom’s initial tee times; spreadsheet for expenses since I am the keeper of the money; spreadsheet for trash and Robins). Well, no one lost big or won big on this trip. Mark was the big winner of $40 in Robins ($20 from me and $20 from Bob) and $41 in trash. Tom broke even on the Robins and won $17 in trash. Bob and I are paying them out. But, it’s worth it. I’m sure that Mr. Say So will have to have a meeting to discuss how to adjust for next year.
And, yes, we’re already talking about next year. It will definitely be Michigan. Always Michigan (and yes, I have a bag of Better Made Butter Braided Pretzels stashed in my suitcase).

[guess my overzealous uploading is working out. Flight was supposed to leave at 530 pm. Then changed to 605 pm. Just switched to 555 pm. And, since it’s 526 pm and I only have 64 of 205 photos uploaded, I overdid it. But thanks GRR for the free Wi-Fi so that I could at least start the upload.]

Day 8: Head to Tullymore

Got up in the morning -- not nearly as early as most days because we're not playing a morning round and instead driving to Tullymore/St. Ives. Pack up the cars and head to check out of Boyne. Thankfully, our buddy was there at checkout so we could check everything and get squared up. For one of the first times since we've been going on the trip, everything sorted out nicely. Mark headed to a meeting and was going to catch up with us. Tom, Bob and I leisurely headed our way (Bob spent most of the trip snoring in the backseat).

To get to Tullymore, they tell you not to use your GPS because it'll take you there in a round about way. But, they do have a lot of big signs guiding you there (Tullymore is in the middle of nowhere as well). When we get to St. Ives, it's starting to rain. And, I don't particularly like playing in the rain. Don't like the rain gear, the wet grips, the umbrella. Nothing about it. So, pretty much I rode around in the cart, drank beer, caught up on email and a bit of work, watched the scenery. There were a lot of deer on this course -- including the two that put plenty of hoof marks on the green as they ran up from the pond and across the green.

Finish up and head to the inn to check in. Nothing fancy. Not nearly as nice as Boyne. But, we're only there for a night's sleep. Grab dinner and drinks and then head in for some shuteye before our last round at Tullymore.

Day 7: Bay Harbor

My favorite day on the trip: Bay Harbor. Start off with breakfast at Sagamores. Head up the road to Bay Harbor to play for the day. Starting off Links/Quarry. Afternoon is Preserves/Links. It's a little chilly in the morning -- with some serious wind. Will make for an interesting day.

Repeating again the wide eyed, mouth opened looks from Bob and Mark. And, Bob finally gets the bag of found golf balls that we brought along with us to hit into the lake. Take a picture of this. Take a picture of that. Take a picture of this. So, lots of pictures at Bay Harbor.

Lunch on the patio. Nice that it was so cool that we all had to wear sweaters and contemplated inside instead of out. Soup was a good call by all to warm us up.

Day 6: True North

Monday we're supposed to play True North in the morning and then added BlackLake (don't know if it's still owned by the UAW anymore) since we couldn't figure out what to do with an afternoon off (antiquing didn't really interest anyone but me and Tom). True North is in the boonies (just past Boyne Highlands courses) so we stop for a nutritional breakfast at McDonalds (after stopping at 7-11 for my coffee). Turn left at the church (Tom mentions that if they ever get rid of the church, he'll miss the road).

I don't know how these courses can stay in business because they never seem crowded, they are in amazing condition, and the staff is supberb. And, they only get play a few months out of the year. But, that's why we keep coming back.

Again, Bob and Mark are amazed by True North, like they are with all of the courses. Tom and I are amazed at how much lusher True North is this year -- guess Michigan received a lot of rain. Normally you can hit it in the gunk and find your ball. Yes, we have quite a few "gunk moments." This year, finding your ball was pretty tough -- but Bob found plenty to replace them often coming out with a handful of balls. Our cart woman -- Shelly (sp) was amazing. We must have seen her every 3-4 holes.

Lunch on the patio. Great food at True North. Few beers (of course). Our Wisconsin trip has us ordering more Leinenkugal Summer Shandy than Oberon, but we mix it up a bit.  While we're ordering lunch, we have a thought: how about bagging Black Lake and seeing how much it costs to play True North again -- less driving and the course definitely doesn't "suck." For $70 replay fee, we're in!

We start off on True North again. Don't know if our tummies were full or what -- but pretty much all of us couldn't hit the side of a barn at the beginning. At least we all have good attitudes about it. Mark, I believe, shoots a 50+ on the front if that tells the story. And, with those kinds of scores, not a whole lot of trash (well, a lot, but not the ones that make $$). But, turn the corner on the back nine. It's like a fresh start.

Dinner. Well, no one but me and Tom seemed terribly excited about dinner again at the Bob In (sniff, sniff). So, we eat at some place -- chain, oh no! -- near the casino. Wasn't bad, but wasn't the Bob In Again (sniff, sniff).

Tuesday's Bay Harbor, so we need to get rested up.

Day 5: Heather/Hills at Boyne Highlands

Off we go on Day 5 of our Michigan golf adventure. Today is Boyne Highlands, the Heather course followed by Arthur Hills. First have to make our stop at 7-11 for coffee (it's a tradition). Then stop for breakfast (buffet with egg station) at the inn before our first round. Warm up a bit on the not-so-impressive driving range (we've always thought their driving range was pretty dinky, but after Forest Dunes, nothing seems as top notch). The Heather course has some marsh, some hills, some woods. Really pretty course. If you watched Big Break Michigan, you'd recognize some of the holes here and later on at Arthur Hills.

Now that we’re a foursome, we can play Robins and team trash. Much more fun than with 3 people because the games are more plentiful and noone is alone in a golf cart. Not that we have running conversations or anything, it does make a difference.

Finish up at Heather and head to the next course for lunch in the clubhouse before playing the Hills. The onion rings are amazing -- but they didn’t have the sweet potato fries that are excellent (it's been a number of years, but Flick was having lunch with a Korean woman on the LPGA. Now I wish I knew who it was because I'm sure she's doing well on the tour.

Hills is one of Tom’s favorite tracks. It starts off pretty basic (especially since I birdied the first hole). Meanders around into the woods. The back nine is more impressive because of the elevation changes -- but the front is pretty special as well. Breathtaking views make playing poorly fine by me. Besides, we also have beer!

Finish up our round on the Hills and off to the Bob In for bear claws. We've discovered that Mark is winning the most. Tom is thinking about changing the rules. Why -- because he "Says So."

Tom and I have been talking up The Bob In for weeks. It’s tradition. It didn't have the same aura for Bob or Mark -- but they are newbies and have to go along with what we want to do. And The Bob In Again is TRADITION.